Two States Suspend “Scared Straight” Programs After A&E Filming Is Criticized


Critics of the controversial “scared straight” approach to juvenile misbehavior had feared that the popular new television show about the strategy might spark a proliferation of new programs. Now, it appears that things might swing the other way, reports Youth Today. Of the three states where episodes of A&E's “Beyond Scared Straight” are filmed – California, Maryland, and South Carolina – two suspended their scared straight operations last month. California is reviewing whether its program violates federal juvenile justice requirements, and Maryland is reviewing the effectiveness of its program.

South Carolina has not stopped its program. A decision likely will come after its new corrections chief, former judge Bill Byars, is the senate next week. Byars was the head of the state's Department of Juvenile Justice before Gov. Nikki Haley nominated him to lead corrections. Studies in the 1980s and 1990s indicated that scared straight programs do little to curb future offending, and some evaluations suggested the certain programs increased offending over youths in a comparable control group.

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